Friday, January 4, 2013

They Never Told Jacob!

I am moved by the dark secret Israel's sons hid from him for 22 years. Yet, it became the final catalyst that healed their deepest wounds and forged brothers to unify into the fledgling, insurgent nation.

It began when Joseph was kidnapped by his brothers, thrown into a pit and traded to the Ishmaelites and Middianites passing on their trade route to Egypt. There he became the country's Viceroy and was permitted by Pharaoh to marry his niece, which set the stage for Israeli nationhood. Although capable of return, he stayed away from his father Jacob, refusing to go back and reveal the crime his brothers had perpetrated. Was he thinking Jacob conspired with them? Was providence sacrosanct, more essential to him than truth? Did he fear the embarrassment he may cause his brothers? Why did he not make contact with his beloved father for 22 years?

During the series of drought driven events that brought his brothers to seek food in Egypt, Joseph imprisoned his brother Shimeon. Then, he did the same to youngest brother Benjamin, which caused brother Yehuda to confess about the collective denial to their father, about their kidnapping Joseph. Joseph realized he had been complicit in the collective deception they portrayed to their father - for 22 years! Joseph immediately became emotional, crying on the neck of innocent Benjamin who was too young during the original travesty, but was now entrapped and stunningly enjoined by the brothers collective silence, their unspoken admission and this moment of realization.

All the brothers were now bonded by their darkest truth, to send their ageing father to his grave absent of their irreconcilable behavior. In this poignant moment Joseph realized deference to the indelible bond of Yehuda and Benjamin. The tears shed by Joseph, as explained by Rashi, were for his future role in the destruction's of the first and second temple, which would occur in Benjamin and Yehuda's territory. Benjamin shed tears over the destruction of the tabernacle (Mishkan) that preceded the temples. This distortion of truth by Israel's progeny sufficiently powerful to cause great destruction and devastation.

Twenty two years later, as he lay on his deathbed, the gurgling abyss of their collective denial continued to bother Jacob. It prompted the brothers most famous rhetorical to their concerned dying father when they said to him "Hear O' Israel, The Lord is God The Lord is One!" Immediately, whilst wallowing in the concealment he (Jacob) responded; "Blessed be the name of His glorious kingdom forever". Finally Jacob could rest in the knowledge their complicit union, despite its dubious origin, would project to the end of history,  in line with Jacob's Utopian vision, that his nation Israel would ultimately be united in the truth of Jacob's House of God (Beit El) because no other edifice would ever stand the test of time.

And after they buried Jacob, the brothers retorted, selfishly asking, how will Viceroy Joseph get his retribution on us? Finally, Joseph's greatness was revealed through his forgiveness, anchoring the honor of Israel's desired union, respecting his fathers memory and establishing a trajectory toward Israel's essential truth at the end of time.

The world lives with this twisted history that probably still turns Jacob in his grave. The sacrifice of truth continues to cause Rachel to lament for her children, entrapped and exiled by distortion. And today, as more Jews return from exile, they perpetuate the paradox when from their homes in the confines of the holy city, each Passover they utter the words - "Next year in Jerusalem!" Until Israel's unrealized Utopian vision is complete the insurgent struggle of this nation continues.